CCALCP calls for the implementation of T-361 and protection of the Santurbán páramo

Published by Brent Patterson on

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The Colombian Ministry of Environment has stated that the new delimitation of Santurbán páramo (wetland) will be announced by December 18 of this year.

The question being asked is, Will the Colombian government protect the wetland or favour transnational mining interests?

In short, the wetland is at risk from the proposed Soto Norte gold mine backed by Minesa, a transnational corporation based in the United Arab Emirates.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has commented, “The moor is an important natural resource for Colombia and the source of drinking water for many municipalities in the department of Santander and North Santander.”

The wetland provides drinking water for 2 million people in Colombia.

In July 2019, civic leader Erwing Rodríguez-Salah wrote in Razón Publica, “The delimitation of the Santurbán páramo made by the Santos government in 2014 was the result of interest in facilitating mining activities, and not in protecting the water that the region needs for its life and development.”

He highlights that Resolution 2090 of 2014 “delimited Santurbán with the purpose of legalizing mining companies in the area.”

“Therefore, under the leadership of the Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers Collective, in July 2015 we filed a guardianship action against the Ministry of Environment. The guardianship was ruled by the Constitutional Court in judgment T-361 of 2017. There, the Court considered that Resolution 2090 violated our right to environmental participation and demanded from the Government a new delimitation of the Santurbán páramo.”

At the time of the ruling in February 2016, CCALCP lawyer Julia Adriana Figueroa Cortés told El Espectador that T-361 “becomes a precedent in favour of the claims set forth in the guardianship and strengthens the interventions that will be made before the Constitutional Court in our purpose that will generate legal, constitutional and material protection of our Páramo de Santurbán.”

In February 2019, Vanguardia reported that the Ministry of Environment is “holding meetings with communities about the new delimitation of the páramo.”

On May 26, PBI-Colombia tweeted that it had accompanied CCALCP at the consultation in Bucaramanga on the new delimitation of the Santurban wetland and that the Minister of Environment was present at that consultation.

At that consultation, CCALCP member Andrea Nocove stated, “We want the conservation and preservation of water for future generations.”

And the Comité Santurbán tweeted, “We will not fall into the delusion of delimiting Santurbán to make way for mega-mining in our high mountain Santandereana.”

Rodríguez-Salah concludes, “This will be the most important year in the history of the Santurbán wetland. It is likely that, at the end of the year, we will know if our attempt to protect the water of future generations and to guarantee future regional competitiveness paid off.”

The 317-page judgement can be read at Sentencia T-361/17.

CCALCP lawyers Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove will be in Canada this coming November to talk about this ruling, as well as about fracking, climate change and the historic T-880 court ruling on the right to free, prior and informed consent.

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